The Pancake gets flattened in trading tussle

Sub-council 3 proportional representative (PR) councillor for CAPEXIT Karl Bodin with Quinton and Lucille Abrams outside the The Pancake food trailer in Capricorn Business Park.

A Marina da Gama couple say their future is hanging in the balance after the City refused to renew their informal trading permit.

Quinton and Lucille Abrams have been running a food trailer at Surfer’s Corner on Muizenberg Beach since December 2018.

Their three-year permit was due to expire in October 2021 but was extended to March 2023 due to Covid.

The Pancake specialises in pancakes, coffee, and cold drinks, and the couple say it is their only source of income.

They appealed against the City’s decision, saying they did not compete with other businesses, their products were affordable and they sold food enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. They also noted that they had a valid business licence, their trailer met all health and safety requirements and they kept their surroundings clean and abided by the law.

Ms Abrams said they bought their stock locally and employed a man and a woman part-time who had now lost their jobs.

Ms Abrams said they had applied at the beginning of March to renew their permit but had still not heard from the City by the end of that month despite many calls and emails.

However, the City had granted them a month-to-month permit.

In July, Ms Abrams said, a City official had told her “they were not on the list of traders” but could not appeal until she had received an official letter from the City.

The couple say they shuttered their business at Muizenberg Beach as they did not want to trade illegally. In September they moved to a spot in Capricorn Business Park where a “loyal customer“ offered them a space in front of their business although business is not as good there, according to Ms Abrams.

The City said its terms and conditions made it clear that permission to trade should not raise any expectation of future trading.

“While it is not impossible, the intention is to create opportunities for new applicants, and the application process is a competitive one,” the City said.

Despite an outcry from the Muizenberg community and a petition with 542 signatures, the couple were left without a trading bay.

In September, the couple were notified by a letter from the City that their application for a trading site had been unsuccessful.

The couple then submitted an official appeal with the help of Sub-council 3 proportional representative (PR) councillor for CAPEXIT, Karl Brodin, who has helped other informal traders in Table View with similar problems.

Last month, the City notified the couple that the appeal had been unsuccessful, saying: “Preference will be given to new applicants when the initial adjudication is done.” And the distance of the applicant from the trading site was a consideration if the traders lived in the same area, the City noted.

Ms Abrams had specified two trading sites, one as a first choice and the other as a second. The City declined her appeal for the first site based on the fact that the other applicant lived 2.9km from Surfer’s Corner while the Abrams’s lived 3.2 km from the site.

For her second choice, also at Surfer’s Corner, the City stated that she had been one of three applicants, one being a “first entrant”.

Mr Bodin said he would lodge a review application in the Western Cape High Court and also apply for an interdict to have The Pancake returned to the Surfer’s Corner site until the outcome of the review.

“The City’s intention is to assist these traders to grow their businesses successfully and move along the development continuum, but this isn’t happening.“

However, the City said it had followed due process and it was not aware of any pending legal challenges relating to this matter.

Kate Kvalsvig, of Muizenberg, said The Pancake made the best coffee on the beachfront and the pancakes were affordable.

“It is Quinton’s good humour and generous spirit that made a visit to The Pancake a necessity for locals. He’s a reminder that there are still good people in this crazy world and that warmth and friendliness is all it takes to make life better for others.”